Tensions linger as pope readies for synagogue visit

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VATICAN CITY (RNS) When Pope Benedict XVI visits Rome’s main synagogue next Sunday (Jan. 17) to mark Italy’s 21st annual Day of Jewish-Christian Reflection, the setting alone will reflect a momentous event in Jewish-Catholic relations. The Great Synagogue of Rome stands inside the city’s former Jewish ghetto, where for centuries (from 1555 to 1870) Rome’s […]

  • It’s quite unfortunate that Pope Benedict is doing what he’s doing. Even if his intentions are good—and I do not make any claims to the contrary—his actions are not. Reinstating Bishop Williamson in the Church, and continuing to instruct his subordinates to find ways to bring Williamson’s “traditionalist” fundamentalist splinter group back in the fold is not a good way of showing his Jewish brethren a sign of love and friendship, when the traditionalist pre-Vatican II Catholic views of Jews are so negative and loaded with hundreds of years of persecution. Even if Pope Pius XII was a great person, and even if—as his supporters claim—he was a great friend and helper of Jews during the war, a Catholic whose “heroic virtues” merit the monicker of “saint”, pursuing the process of canonization is counterproductive when so many people believe Pope Pius XII did not do everything in his power to save the Jews.

    The Vatican Secret Archives for the WWII period need to be opened. This is ultimately also for the Church’s benefit, even if it does show, as I think it will, that the Church as such did very little to help the hounded Jews. After all, it was the Church itself that published eleven volumes of documents 40 years ago precisely to counter allegations that Pope Pius XII did do as much as he should have. It’s safe to assume the Church would have shown its best, most compelling documentation showing Pius helping Jews if it had it, and it would have been totally counterproductive to have left clear evidence of this help out of those eleven volumes. I think one can logically assume the documentation simply does not exist.

    Gabriel Wilensky

    Six Million Crucifixions:
    How Christian Teachings About Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust
    Follow me on Tweeter at http://twitter.com/sixmillionbook